The Other Side

This Old Dragon: Issue #45

Wow. Has it really been more than a year since I did one of these?  Well, let''s grab a REALLY old one.  Not the oldest to be sure, but one of the oldest ones I have (I do have issue #43 waiting in the wings).  Plus we are all stuck at home, so let's sit back and see what Issue #45 of This Old Dragon!

This first issue of 1981 gives us what could be a thief and his mark on a bridge. OR someone trying to get a toll from a beggar. 

There some are cool ads for Ral Partha's Witch's Caldron and ICE. This predates my purchasing of Dragon so likely not an ad that influenced me.

There is an editorial from Jake Jaquet.  Here he welcomes two new employees, Debbie Chiusano and Marilyn Mays.  He also welcomes to more familiar names to full-time positions, Roger Moore and Ed Greenwood.  He also mentions changes to Dragon such as updated typeface and more pages.

Kim Mohan follows with Cover to Cover to let us know what is happening in this issue.

Ad for Fantasy Modeling magazine featuring a Vallejo scantily clad woman with two lizard/dragon monsters.

Out on A Limb gives us some letters.  One guy complains about all the new D&D groups springing up but no one plays it like "the old days" (which in his mind was 2.5 years ago).    Another one wants Dragon to stop writing so much about D&D and focus instead on AD&D.  There is no making people happy is there?

Our first article, Gas ‘em Up and Smoke ‘em Out is by Robert Plamondon.  It is actually really useful.  The article covers how smoke, gases and magical clouds move and fill up space.  Granted, modern systems simplify this, but someone out there would it very useful.  This followed up by Dungeon ventilation clears the air by the same author.   How can you breathe in the dungeon depths?   Again, really useful.   Robert Plamondon is kinda an interesting guy. Author, farmer and has some game design credits.  He can be found at http://www.plamondon.com/

Roger E. Moore is up for his fir "full time" paid articles and they are big ones.  NPCs For Hire: One who predicts... ...And One Who Seeks the Perfect Mix. This gives us two NPC classes, the Astrologer and the Alchemist.   The Astrologer is a pure NPC class, no XP or level advancement. It is a type of sage that can be used to predict the future.  The Alchemist, written with Georgia Moore, is a bit more detailed.

Philip Meyers has an article on distributing magic-items to NPC groups in Magic Items for Everyman. Obviously great for OSR/Old-school games, it might also scale right to new games, though new games tend to have less magic items.

Up On A Soapbox gives us two articles about Role-Playing.  Be a creative game-player by Kristan Wheaton discusses ways players should think more about their games and game playing style. This includes creative uses of levitate and fly.   Ways to handle high-level headaches by Lewis Pulsipher is on the other side of the table with how DMs can deal with high-level characters.

Bazaar of the Bizzare is up. This had always been one of my favorite old Dragon features.  This one gives us some subtle reminders that the 70s were not that far behind.  Among the items are Pet Rocks from Roger Moore.  There two kinds, normal and cursed.  They look like rocks and seem very close to a Stone of Commanding Earth Elementals.  On a command word they will attack an opponent.  Damage is like throwing a rock, that is, if the rock was +3 to hit and did 2d6 points of damage.
There is one though that is pretty interesting. A Ring of Oak, which will allow a dryad to move away from her tree.  Ruby Slippers do exactly what you think they do. I wish I had thought of these.  Bell of Pavlov makes you drool.

Ah. Now here is a good one.  Robert Plamondon is back with The Right Write Way to Get Published.  It is a very solid read with timeless advice.  English at this time was not my favorite subject and if you had told me in 1981 that I would be spending not just 90% of professional life writing, but most of my "free" time doing the same, I would have laughed.  So naturally, I ignored articles like this back then.  My mistake.  In fact, this article has such solid advice I am tempted to keep it.  Well...I'll print it out from my Dragon CD-ROM, the copy I have here is so mildewy it is taking me a lot longer to get through it.   Anyway, this article really is timeless advice especially when it comes to the second draft.  Some of the advice is no longer needed. For example how to space in for margins on a typewriter or the merits of a hand-written vs. typed manuscript. Also, and sadly, the magazines he suggests submitting to are all gone.

Merle M. Rasmussen is next with his The Rasmussen Files.  He has a set of Top Secret reactions and rule additions.  The growing interest in computers is visible here with the new Technical Bureau.  These days it is hard to imagine any sort of clandestine espionage without the back of data, technology and computers. Not to mention drones and satellites.  But this is 1981 and all that stuff, while not really new, was getting more and more public notice.

The article is split by an ad that makes me both happy and a little sad.


At least 10 of those addresses are within reasonable driving distances from me now.  One is within walking distance, and none of them are open today. Don't get me wrong, I am really spoiled with the game stores I have by me now including Games Plus, which would not get on to this list till 1982.
Shameless Plug:  If there is something you need and you don't have a local game store Games Plus is taking orders and shipping all over the world.

Len Lakofka's Leomund's Tiny Hut covers Missle Fire and the Archer sub-class.  I have always liked archers and outside of the ranger I never found a good one.  This article has some good adjustments to missile fire and the size of the target; something that has been incorporated into D&D since 3rd edition.  Again, Len treats us to a full class here that can be used as an NPC class or a PC one.   Looking it over I am thoughtful of the new Pathfinder 2nd version of the Fighter and Ranger that both have an Archer option.  Not identical obviously, but likely drawn from the same sources of inspiration.  I will say it is enough to have me reading the PF2 rules a lot this past week.

Next, we get to the big feature of this issue, The Dragon Dungeon Design Kit.
Much to my chagrin, the cardboard pages that were in this issue are gone.  Checking them out on my CD-ROM pdfs I see they are essential Dungeon Tiles.  They even look like 5' squares in most cases.
Kinda wish I had these. I could use them in a game now and my kids would get all excited about using some "real old school material."   Maybe I'll print them out.

We get an installment of the Minarian Legends from Glenn Rahman for the Divine Right game.  This time covering The History of Dwarves.  Divine Right pre-dates my involvement in the hobby, though I do know about it.  I had a chance to pick up a copy cheap, but never did it.  If I find one I might grab it just to see what it was all about.  This history could be used in any game to be honest, but it feels tied to the world it is from to be of use to me.  Still, maybe I'll come back to this if I need to add on to my dwarfs a bit.

Some ads. A Squad Leader scenario. More ads.
Con Calendar.

Electronic Eye from Mark Herro has some dice rolling programs for programable calculators and the new "mini" computers, the Sinclair ZX-80 and the Radio Shack’s “Pocket” TRS-80.  If you are reading this post on your phone, then congratulations, you are in a future that Mark Herro dreamed about.

Daniel Maxfield has more tips for Bunnies & Burrows in Hop, Hop, Hooray!

In what I think is a rarity for ANY era of Dragon, Roger Moore (busy guy this edition) has an article on the advantages of playing evil in How to have a good time being evil.

Reviews for Bloodtree Rebellion, Space Marines, and Grail Quest follow.

Letters from Out on a Limb continue with someone complaining that the last adventure was too "childish."  I guess something do never change.

Ah..now here is some fun stuff.  Dragon's Bestiary covers some new monsters. The Skyzorr’n, a race of humanoid insect beings. Sand Lizard, a desert lizard (I can use these now!). The Dust Devil, a combined earth and air elemental (also could use this) and all three have art by the great Bill Willingham.

Some comics in Dragon's Mirth.   There is an installment of Finneous Fingers. Plus The Story of Jasmine from Darlene, better known as the artist that gave us the World of Greyhawk map.  I know nothing of this series and have no idea if it kept going or not, but it was very different than the fare at the time. I just checked my Issue #43 and there is an entry there as well.  A bit more research has turned up quite bit more. It ran for 12 issues starting in #37. Now I am curious, maybe I'll do a special This Old Dragon Feature on it!

A fun trip down memory lane again.  I some respects quite literal, since in the process of working on this I drove by some of the places advertised as having been game stores and are now gone.

Hopefully, I can do some more of these.

BlackStar: The Ambassador Class Heavy Cruiser

It's "shelter in place" time here in Illinois.  So I am spending my time playing D&D and CoC with my kids and doing research for my BlackStar game.


To that end, I am pouring over my Trek books, both sourcebooks, and RPGs, to find a nice mix.

Plus I am doing research on my favorite class of starship, The Ambassador Class.

https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701-C)
https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Ambassador_class

Up first a few "history of" and "technical specifications of" the Ambassador Class ship










This is a "walk through" but I think they got the size of the bridge wrong.




Star Trek Online takes the same "space" as Starfleet Battles for me.  Similar, but a separate timeline where there is more war.   Here is a player taking his Ambassador class "Support Ship" through some paces.



Enjoy the videos.

Monstrous Monday: Sand Ghoul

We are on vacation this week.  Were supposed to drive down to see my wife's sister, but instead we are holed up here.  So I am starting my mini-campaign of "The Deserts of Desolation & Death" today.

Going through my books last night I figured I needed something new.  Everyone has seen all the old monsters.  Plus I wanted to up the feeling of necromantic dread.  So this guy popped into my head.

Besides. I like undead beasties.

So here it is for 5e D&D (what I am playing today).

Sand Ghoul
The Ghoul by Les EdwardsSand Ghouls are formed when naturally occurring mummies in the desert are possessed with demonic or necromantic power.  They are stronger and faster than normal ghouls.  The drying process also robs them of their stench.
Elves are immune to the Paralyzing touch of the Sand Ghoul.  Desert Orcs living in a combined Desert Elven / Desert Orc community are also immune.

Medium undead (Desert), chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 31 (7d8)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 14 (+2)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 10 (+0)
INT 10 (+0)
WIS 9 (-1)
CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Str +4, Dex +5
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +1, Survival +3
Damage Vulnerabilities fire, radiant
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the sand ghoul to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the sand ghoul drops to 1 hit point instead.

Keen Sight and Smell. The sand ghoul has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell.

Actions
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage. If the target is a creature other than an elf or undead, it must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Stat block Generator: https://tetra-cube.com/dnd/dnd-statblock.html



Television: Witch on Witch Action

It has been a great time for genre TV for the last few years.  Now we are getting a bunch of new witch shows on TV and you know I am happy.  So let's have a look.



Charmed (2018)
Last years Charmed reboot got a second season and turned the premise of the show upside down.   The Charmed Ones are still, well Charmed, but they lost their powers. They can still cast and there are still demons to be fought and witches to be saved. The show is subtly different and in many ways better.  It's taking a while to get to the main plot but from what I have seen so far, I am a few episodes behind, looks fun.



Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
We just got Season 3 and it was great.  Satanic witches, Lilith, Hecate, and Pagan witches. Again, it's like someone has been reading my Christmas list.  Very fun.



Luna Nera
This is an Italian series on Netflix. Taking place in 17th Century Italy it features more witches vs. witches. This time it is witches vs. Benandanti; it sounds like one of my games!



Motherland: Fort Salem
This is the big premiere from the previous week.  An alternate reality where the U.S. Government made a deal with the witches at Salem to create an elite unit of witches in the U.S. Army.
The first episode was fun. Again we have two groups of witches fighting each other as our main plot.  Or at least one of them so far. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes too.


Magicians
This show gets crazier all the time. Though now we are in our last season. Going to miss them all.

Witcher
Not a "Witch show" per se, but plenty of magic and witches here.

Vampires
Not witches but Vampire the Masquerade: The High School Years.  I only watched two episodes of this French import on Netflix, so not as sure about this one yet.


Which Witch is Which? Basic Era Edition

A while back I did a post, Which Witch is Which? Swords & Wizardry Edition in which I broke down all the various S&W witch books I had done.  What each contained and what they covered.

I have since done a few more books and that question is being asked again.  Since my goal here is to get you to buy the one book you really want instead of three or four you might like.

Let's break them all down.


Let's start with my first Witch book.

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games
This book is designed with the "Basic" rules in mind.  So Holmes, Moldvay, or Mentzer or them modern clones like Basic Fantasy or Labyrinth Lord.  Largely compatible with my Swords & Wizardry line.  In includes:
  • The Witch Class, levels 1 to 36
  • Six Traditions (Aquarian, Classical, Faerie, Family, Maleficia and Eclectic)
  • Cantrips for witches
  • 381 New Spells, 20 New Witch Rituals
  • 29 Monsters
  • Magic items
  • 120 pages
This book is the most basic of the Basic witches.  If you don't know which book to get, get this one.

Then I opted to do other books.

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Labyrinth Lord game.
The witches of this book are from the Mara Tradition, witches dedicated to the Dark Mother.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • Spell bonuses for high Charisma
  • Level limits for Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Half-orc and Halfling witches
  • The Daughters of Darkness coven
  • 175 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • 39 Monsters to challenge or be allies including the Lilim demon race.
  • 3 Non-player characters. 
    • “Bloody” Mary Worth
    • Darlessa, The Queen of Vampires 
    • Lilith, Queen and Mother of all Lilim
  • 80 pages. 
If you like your witches evil, have powers to seduce people, summon demons or raise undead then this is your book.

Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Blueholme Prentice Rules game.
The witches of this book are a revised version of the Amazon Tradition, witches associated witht he Amazons and Diana.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • The witch class and two new witch covens
  • 40 Spells and 8 Rituals for witch characters
  • 26 Pages.
If you want to play an Amazon witch, then this is your book.  This book is also FREE, so grab it anyway.


The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules game.
The witches of this book are a revised version of the Classical Tradition, some of the first witches the world has known.  Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • The witch class and four new combination classes, using Blueholme rules
    • Witch-Cleric, Witch-Fighter, Witch-Theif, Witch-Magic User
  • Guidelines for playing any species of witch
  • Six witch covens of the Classical Tradition
  • 120 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • 25 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  • 29 magic items and six artifacts
  • Three Non-player character witches from pages of mythology
    • Circe
    • Medea
    • Medusa
  • 84 pages.
If you want to play witches from a Greek, Roman or Egyptian background then this is your book.

The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition
This book is designed for the Labyrinth Lord game.
The witches of this book are from the Pumpkin Spice Tradition. A somewhat silly origin that led to one of my favorite traditions.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • Spell bonuses for high Charisma
  • Level limits for Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Half-orc and Halfling witches
  • The Sisterhood coven
  • 122 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • New magic items including magic cauldrons, masks, and tea. Plus the magic item black market
  • 24 Monsters
  • 3 Non-player characters
    • Becky
    • Karen
    • Carol
  • 64 Pages.
If you want to play a "Hollywood" style witch or a witch with some unique spells then this is your book.
The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch TraditionThis book is designed for the Old-School Essentials game.  The witches of this book are members of the Craft of the Wise, the Pagan tradition of northern Europe.
  • Levels 1 to 14
  • The Bándrui and Followers of Aradia covens
  • Cowans, the champions of the witch
  • 100 Spells and Rituals for witch and non-witch characters
  • 28 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  • 4 Non-player characters
    • Bodhmal
    • Liath Luchara
    • Alice Kyteler
    • Morgane le Fey
  • 66 Pages.
If you want to play a pagan witch or a follower of "the Old Ways", then this is the book for you.

All the books are pretty much inter-compatible.  The witches all use the same XP, to hit and saving throw tables.  Sometimes there are differences between what level the witch goes to or what species can become witches, but that is also something that can be worked out in your games.

If you want to mix and match Basic-Era and Swords & Wizardry that is also fine and will work well.

So let's say you want a Basic-era Tiefling Winter Witch.  Or you want to play a Pagan Witch to level 20? You just get the books with those and mix as you like.

Now if you are curious about what is in each book, well the preview on DriveThru covers the first few pages including the table of contents.  But sometimes you want more details.

So here is a break down of all 1,060 spells I have used and 229 monsters.

Witch Books - Google Sheets



I hope this helps you make a good choice!

I have a couple more I want to do.  One is a book on High Witchcraft (Ceremonial) and then either a Demonic witch or a Blood magic witch.

New Release: Craft of the Wise - The Pagan Witch Tradition for OSE

Happy St. Patrick's Day (today), Ostra and Spring Equinox (Thursday)!
We just had a Friday the 13th and a full moon so the timing is perfect for witches and pagans.

After many delays, and one detour for the Pumpkin Spice Witch, here is my newest witch book designed for the Old-School Essentials RPG.

The Craft of the Wise - The Pagan Witch Tradition


This is the fifth book in my "Basic Era Games" series of books for the witch class.

Introducing the Pagan Tradition, witches dedicated to the ”Old Ways.”
- The Bándrui and Followers of Aradia covens
- 100 Spells and Rituals for witch and non-witch characters
- 28 Monsters to challenge or be allies
- 4 Non-player characters to challenge the mightiest characters

Fully compatible with Old-School Essentials and other Basic-Era games.
Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

Both the PDF and Print-on-Demand versions are ready now!


And as a special bonus, I commissioned James V. West to design a witch-specific character sheet for both your Basic-era and Swords & Wizard witch characters. You can get those for FREE.
Want more? There is also a special PWYW Witch Character Folio which has both sheets and tables for your witch character's advancement.





All the books in the Basic Era Games series are 100% compatible with each other. 

Each features a different witch tradition, different rules for the game they are designed for, new covens, new NPCs and new witch spells and rituals.  Each includes some monsters associated with witches to use in your games.




Monstrous Monday: Bodhmal and Liath Luchara for OSE and the Pagan Witch

Not monsters really, but NPCs from my upcoming The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition.  Bodhmal is a Bándrui witch, Liath is her Cowan, or witch's companion or champion. A cowan is a non-witch class that has the ability to learn some witch magics. I detail the benefits of a cowan in the new book.

Bodhmal
Female Witch 7th level, Pagan Tradition (Bándrui)
Armor Class 8 [11]
Hit Dice/Level 7+ 7 (25 hp)
Attacks 1 × weapon
THAC0 18 [+2]
Movement Rate 90’ (30’)
Saves D8 W9 P9 B12 S11 (Witch 7, Bracers +2)
Morale 10
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 1,250
Number Appearing Unique
Treasure Type P (J)

Str 10 Int 14 Wis 14 Dex 10 Con 14 Cha 18

Bodhmal has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.
She casts as a 7th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Wolf
7th level: Shape Change

Spells by Level
1st (3): Cure Light Wounds, Empathic Senses, Ceremony
2nd (2): Animal Messenger, Pins and Needles
3rd (2): Call Lightning, Scry
4th (1): Polymorph

Magic Items
Bracers of Protection +2

Bodhmal’s father was a druid but she chose the path of the Bándrui.  She is the foster mother to Fionn MacCumhail and also his aunt. Fionn is her sister’s son.  She has been bonded to Liath, the Grey warrior, as Cowan for many years.
'Sí mo laoch mo ghile mear'Sí mo Scáthach, gile mearSuan gan séan ní bhfuair mé féinÓ chuaigh I gcéin mo ghile mear

Liath LucharaFemale Ranger 8th level (Cowan)Armor Class 5 [14] +2Hit Dice/Level 8 + 16 (52 hp)Attacks 1 × weapon (1d8) THAC0 18 [+2]Movement Rate 90’ (30’)Saves D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (Ranger 8)Morale 12Alignment LawfulXP for Defeating 1,750Number Appearing UniqueTreasure Type None
Str 13 Int 12 Wis 14 Dex 16 Con 16 Cha 12
Ranger AbilitiesTracking: 90%
Spells by levelDruid, 1st (1): Animal friendshipWitch, 0 (3): Ensure a Successful Hunt, Merry Greetings, Summon a Witch
ItemsLong Sword, Witchlight +2Leather ArmorSpear, Gáe Assail
Liath Luchara, the Grey Warrior, has been defending her clan since she was old enough to hold a spear.  She has joined with Bodhmal as Cowan to help protect the babe Fionn MacCumhail, who she has started calling “Deimne” because of his fair hair.
Special shout out to Brian O'Sullivan who has also written a lot about Liath and Bodhmal. These stats are based more on the versions I have used over the years, but his characters are great too.  Pick up his books if you want to read more.
The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition out tomorrow!

Zatannurday: Harleen

Had the chance to pick up the new DC Black Label publication of Stjepan Šejić's Harleen.





It is absolutely fantastic.
Not only can he produce some fantastic art that just grabs you, he also is a great story teller.

If you don't know Stjepan Šejić's work then make sure you change that now! 
You can see some of Harleen here from Issue #1.  This hardcover combines issues 1 to 3.

I hear he wants to do one for Poison Ivy now too in the same universe.  I am all for that!
Though I am still waiting for that WonderCroft comic!

You can find Stjepan on the web:



Happy Friday the 13th! Slashers & Survivors - Slashcan Edition

It's Friday the 13th! You know that is like a holiday around here.

What better way to celebrate than a new game from my friend Justin Issac?

Slashers & Survivors - Slashcan Edition



From DriveThruRPG:

Slashers & Survivors: Slashcan Edition is an ashcan version of the our new slasher rpg. Based on The Blackest of Deaths by Bloat Games, the game allows you to create a nerd, jock, or other slasher staple and see if you can outwit and survive a homicidal maniac or deadly cult. This is not the final version of the game and the pdf will be updated periodically with feedback recieved. There will be a deluxe version of the game coming to Kickstarter later this year with more content.I grabbed it and it is fun.

It is PayWhatYouWant, but do throw money at it. 



Bundle of Holding: Blue Rose

I am sure a lot of you, if not all, are familiar with the Bundle of Holding.
You pay a reduced price to get some great RPG books. Pay a little more and get a lot more. Often some of the money goes to charity.  Well, this month is one of my favorite games.

Bundle of Holding: Blue Rose


For just under $8 you can get $48 worth of material.  Not a bad deal at all.
If you were at all interested in this game this is the place to get it from and now is the time.

You can read my reviews of the game here:
It really is a great game.

BlackStar: Klingon Time Travel, The Ghost Station of Inverness Five Part 2

I have been thinking about Time Crystals and Klingon Time Travel.
That almost sounds contradictory, but hear me out.

A couple of things about Klingon culture stand out to me.

First, there is Boreth, the Klingon Monastery.   When the First Emporer Kahless was leaving his people he pointed to a star and said: "Look for me there, on that point of light."  That point of light was the star that Boreth orbited.  It has been given as one of the reasons that Klingons expanded into space; to keep their promise with Kahless.


Boreth has only one building, a monastery dedicated to Kahless. Here devotees can have visions. One thing not spoken about in Federation circles is that these visions always come true.  Why?  Boreth is also home to naturally occurring Time Crystals.  These warps time around them much like dilithium warps matter and space.   No, the science doesn't make any real sense, but this is Star Trek, not Astrophysics.   So we have a culture that has a planet full of time altering crystals.  We saw the Klingon High Priest Tenavik grow to an adult in a few months here (ST:DISCO) and later Worf sees visions of his future (ST:TNG).

Klingons have also had access to time travel devices in Voyager. In particular, in 2404 (five years from the current Picard series) a Klingon named Korath "sells" Janeway a time travel device.  The implication is this was something only a Klingon could get and he wasn't supposed to be sharing it with any non-Klingon.

Then there is the Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS. Or as we say it, Kronos. Another nod to time.

So why don't Klingons travel in time?  Simple.  Kahless told them not too.

Before Kahless went to Sto'Vo'Kor he passed on some more wisdom to his fellow Klingons.
"nuq 'oH legh ghaH 'Iv legh qa' jIH."

or "He who looks to the past misses the future."

Klingons, while they honor their past, took this as an injunction against meddling with it.
Kahless is not just their Emporer, he is a messianic figure. Remember, according to Lt. Commander Worf, "Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth."  Kahless is all they have left.

BlackStar


How does this fit into BlackStar?

This is the background I am using to set up "The Ghost Station of Inverness Five."
It would make for a great con game.  I could even run it straight as a pure Star Trek game, to be honest.  Though this makes The Ghost Station the most "Trek" of all the BlackStar adventures.

I am going to have to see if I can find an old copy of the FASA Trek Regula-1 Deck Plans.
After I posted my first post on The Ghost Station I realized I put a Space Station into what should at that time be protected space.  So the Time Crystals simply pulled the science station into the current time.



The station is from the Federation-Klingon war, so lots of old-school Trek fun with it.  I just have to be careful and not steal to many ideas that I was going to use in the "Ghost Ship" adventure.

Monstrous Mondays: Acolytes to Initiates

I think if I was hard-pressed into it I could recall all of the monsters from the Moldavy Basic D&D book.  I read that section over and over.  In my pre-adolescent mind, I felt I had to memorize the monsters so I could properly run a D&D game.

"Acolyte, Ape (white), Bandit, Bat, ..."  I didn't try to memorize the order, but it came with the territory.  I would pour over the Monster Manual with the same enthusiasm and likewise the Cook/Marsh Expert book.   But they did not "attach" themselves to my psyche the same way that the Basic book did.  The Monster Manual did so in different ways and the Expert monsters provided me with some of my all-time favorites.

Largely due to something called "The Serial Position Effect" in psychology it was easiest to remember the endpoints; Acolytes and Zombies.  So my earliest games had a lot of these.  Sometimes, oftentimes, in the same encounters. 

I grew rather fond of acolytes to be honest.  Not only did they have more flexibility than veterans (the "monster" type for fighters) but they could be used in a variety of ways.  Devotees on pilgrimages, wandering friars or monks, cultists, and yes, these guys.

With the Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition on the way, why not do the same with witches?

Image by Enrique Meseguer from PixabayInitiates
Initiates are 1st level witches on personal quests.  They usually travel in small groups, but larger groups can have higher level witches.  Groups of 4 or more are led by a higher level witch (1d10: 1–4: 2nd level, 5–7: 3rd level, 8–9: 4th level, 10: 5th level).

These witches will typically all be from the same coven and tradition.  For example, a coven of Bandrui witches can be Pagan Witch and/or Green Witch Traditions.

Initiates
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1d6+1  (2d6+1)
Alignment: Any
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1* (3 hp)
Attacks: 1 (dagger)
Damage: 1d6
Special: Witch spells
Save: Witch 1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: IV
XP: 10

Initiates
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 9 [10]
HD: 1d4
Move: 60
Attacks: 1 (dagger, 1d6), Witch spell
Alignment: Any
Treasure: 0 (3)
XP: 10

Initiate 
(Old-School Essentials)
1st level witches on personal quests.

Armor Class 9 [10]
Hit Dice 1 (5 hp)
Attacks 1 × dagger (1d6) or spell
THAC0 19 [0]
Movement Rate 60’ (20’)
Saves D11 W12 P14 B16 S15 (W1)
Morale 8
Alignment Any
XP for Defeating 10
Number Appearing 1d6+1 (2d6+1)
Treasure Type U
  • Demi-Human witches. Elven NPC witches are known as “Kuruni,” and Dwarven NPC witches are called “Xothia.”
  • Leader. Groups of 4+ are led by a higher level witch (1d10: 1–4: 2nd level, 5–7: 3rd level, 8–9: 4th level, 10: 5th level). Choose or roll the leader’s spells.
  • Person. Considered a “person” for magical effects.
Initiate
(Iron Falcon)
Armor Class 9
Hit Dice 1
No. Attacks 1
Damage 1d6, by weapon
Move 6"
Alignment Any
No. Appearing 2d6+1
% in Lair None
Treasure C

Coming Soon!



The Craft of the Wise - The Pagan Witch Tradition for Old-School Essentials

Iron Falcon Handbook of Monsters

I have talked a lot about Basic Fantasy in the past.  It is one of my favorites of the Retro-Clone movement and it in many ways reflects how I played back in the early 80s with a mix of Basic D&D and Advanced D&D.   Something I think that a lot of people did and something that creator Chris Gonnerman was keenly aware of.

A while back I discovered he had done ANOTHER game called Iron Falcon.
Iron Falcon, like Basic Fantasy, is a Basic-era Retro Clone, though more on the side of OD&D than AD&D.  Gonnerman is more explicit about this being a game not of the rules "as they were written" but more "as we played them."

That appeals to me.

You can get Iron Falcon in lots of places.  In particular the dedicated website, Lulu, Amazon and of course DriveThruRPG.   I hope to play around with it some more to see what it is all about, but so far it feels like a nice mix of OD&D feel and Basic D&D play.

But today I want to talk about the Iron Falcon Handbook of Monsters.  Or rather, let's let Chris Gonnerman talk about it and his plans for it.



The Cafepress shop can be found here, https://www.cafepress.com/ironfalcon.

There is a lot of cool merchandise here and like Chris mentions, the difference here between this and a Kickstarter is you get something right away.   I think it is a great idea. I am going to have to grab a t-shirt or two.

So check it out and come back every month to see what is new and different.

I'll try to get some Iron Falcon reviews up soon.

No Magic Like Family: Angela, Dolly and Elvira

It should be no shock to anyone that I am a huge fan of Cassandra "Elvira" Petersen.  So when I saw this, well you know where my thoughts went!

Fun idea! She’s a little bit Country and I’m a little bit Rock’n Roll! https://t.co/5vETiiAXTl pic.twitter.com/T0RaN5KDrQ— Elvira (@TheRealElvira) December 9, 2019

I mean seriously? Dolly and Elvira in a TV show playing sister witches?? It's like someone on the internet was reading my secret stash of fan-fic...that I totally don't have.

Dolly & Elvira by Neon Horror
http://www.neonhorror.comDolly did a movie with a witch back in 86, A Smoky Mountain Christmas. Yes. I remember it.

I can't do a TV show. And seriously Hallmark, you can do 3,000 Christmas movies, would a Halloween one like this kill ya'?  But I can do RPG stuff.

And I know the PERFECT RPG book for this.

Background
Ok, I am going to add this to my War of the Witch Queens somehow.  Dolly's and Elvira's mother, a very powerful witch, has just died. I don't think she is one that sets off the war, but it is a precursor.  Their mother was the founder of the Home, Heart, and Hearth shops and both her daughters worked there.  Dolly went more for the "lighter" side of things focusing on the front side of the stores where minor magics are sold.  Elvira was naturally attracted to the darker, backroom side of the business that dealt in "gray market" magic items.

Just to make life easy for all of us, I am just going with "Dolly" and "Elvira" for their names.  No need to create new-weird character names.  Just pretend they are twin sisters and it all works out fine.

Of course, given this, only one woman could be their mother. Angela Lansbury.

This is another good example of mixing and matching my various Basic-era witch books to suit your own needs.



Dolly
Female Witch 14th level, Pumpkin Spice Tradition

Armor Class: 6 (witch gown, +3)
Hit Dice/Level: 14d4+14 (50 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 14
Morale: 11
Alignment: Lawful

Str: 12 Int: 15 Wis: 16 Dex: 12 Con: 14 Cha: 18

Dolly has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 14th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Dog "Popeye"
Lesser: Things That Man Was Not Meant to Know are Fine For Women
Minor: Resting Witch Face

Patron: Cardea, the Opener or Ways

Spells by Level
1st (5): Blessed, Forget Me Knot, Glamour, Speak with Animals, Cake and Tea (Ritual)
2nd (4): Heal Affliction, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, Witch Slap, Sage Burning (Ritual)
3rd (4): Bewitch III, Live Laugh Love, Ward of the Season, Merry Meetings (Ritual)
4th (3): Age Resistance (Lesser), Cleanse, Mirror Talk
5th (3): Calm Weather, Private Sanctum, Tripping the Light Fantastic (Ritual)
6th (2): Cloak of Dreams, Summon Higher Power
7th (2): Peace Aura, Hell Hath No Fury (Ritual)

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Female Witch 13th level, Mara Tradition

Armor Class: 6 (witch gown, +3)
Hit Dice/Level: 13d4+26 (60 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 13
Morale: 10
Alignment: Chaotic

Str: 11 Int: 12 Wis: 14 Dex: 14 Con: 15 Cha: 18

Elvira has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 13th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Hell Poodle "Gonk"
Lesser: Dream Invasion
Minor: Nightmare Shape

Patron: Hecate

Spells by Level
1st (4): Bewitched I,  Feel My Pain, Protection from Spirits, Vigor
2nd (4): Choking Grip, Ghoulish Hands, Hypnotize, Summon Witches (Ritual)
3rd (3): Bestow Curse, Edge of Blackness, Summon and Bind Imp of the Perverse (Ritual)
4th (3): Grave Sanctuary, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Ardour Flame (Ritual)
5th (2): Cry for the Night Bird, Summon Shadow
6th (2): Aspect of the Crone, Summon Nightmare Steed
7th (1):  Enchant Item

And just for fun, let's say that Angela is actually alive but faked her death to get her two daughters working together again to save the family business!  Hey Hallmark! Where's my job offer now?

Angela
Female Witch 17th level, Classical Tradition

Armor Class: 7 (witch gown, +2)
Hit Dice/Level: 19d4 (48 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 19
Morale: 11
Alignment: Lawful

Str: 11 Int: 16 Wis: 18 Dex: 12 Con: 11 Cha: 18

Angela has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 19th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Dog
Lesser: Gift of Prophecy
Minor: Drawing Down the Moon
Medial: Charge of the Goddess

Patrons: Hestia and Hecate

Spells by Level
1st (6): Color Spray, Fortell, Fury of the Ancestors, Obedient Beast, Speak with Animals, Witch's Mark (Ritual)
2nd (5): Augury, Blur, Demeter's Lament, Witch Sense, Favor of the Gods (Ritual)
3rd (5): Danger Sense, Dither, Scry, Third Eye, Family Curse (Ritual)
4th (4): Create Talisman, Divination, Eyes Everywhere, Hounds of the Underworld (Ritual)
5th (4): Dome of Deepest Night, Empower Distaff, Sending, Access the Library (Ritual)
6th (3): Analyze Dweomer, Empower Rod, Staff or Wand, True Seeing
7th (3):  Breath of Life, Magickal Conception, Sirocco
8th (2): Permanency,  Protection of the Goddess (Ritual)

Angela has the patrons of Hestia and Hecate. With their guidance, she began the Home, Heart, and Hearth shops.


And if you can check out the REAL shop at Neon Horror. Some great merchandise there including that Dolly & Elvira t-shirt.

Monstrous Monday: Gwragedd Annwn

An old favorite for today's Monstrous Monday.  The Swanmay from Monster Manual II featured heavily in my Ravenloft games of late First Ed and Early 2nd Ed. 
While there are creatures like these found all over Europe, it is the Welsh Gwragedd Annwn that remains my favorite.  Though not 100% the same as the Swanmay, it is close enough for my liking.

Here she is for Old-School Essentials.

swan maiden by liga-martaGwragedd Annwn (swan-maidens)
Human maidens capable of turning into a swan. They only have this power while they remain unmarried.

Armor Class 7 [12]
Hit Dice 2 or more (9 hp)
Attacks 1 weapon (by weapon type)
THAC0 19 [+1]
Movement Rate 120’ (40’) or 150’ (50’) swim or 180’ (60’) flying
Saves D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (2)
Morale 10
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 25
Number Appearing 1 (1d4+1)
Treasure Type U (A)

  • Enemy of Evil. Gwragedd Annwn are fierce enemies of evil and chaos and fight it wherever they can.
  • Rangers. All Gwragedd Annwn are rangers of level equal to their HD. They will be equipped accordingly.
  • Swan Transformation. By means of a feather token they can transform into a large swan. It is believed that once they take a husband they must give this token to him.  Many are loathe to do that.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Space Kids

The last Kickstart Your Weekend for February.  And this one really appeals to me.

SPACE KIDS RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigbaldgames/space-kids-rpg?ref=274bc4

From the KS page,

SPACE KIDS RPG™ is a tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) for kids aged 4-12 and their parents, set in a lighthearted science fiction universe of advanced technology, fascinating aliens, and unending adventures.There is more, a lot more.  The game centers around the two design goals of Teamwork and Problem Solving and Everyone Matters.  I will also add that another, only semi-stated goal of passing on the love and joy of RPGs to a younger audience.

As a gamer, father, and educator I heartily approve of this project!

If you think about it, the "mission statement" of this game is really no different than that of Star Trek or even Doctor Who.

Plus you can get in for just 7 bucks for two PDFs.  That's pretty good if you ask me.

So check this out and share it around.  They already met their goals, but some of those stretch goals would be nice too!

Plays Well With Others: Old-School Essentials

By its very nature Old-School Essentials is easily combined with anything that supports B/X style play.   So it naturally Plays Well With Others
Mechanics are largely easy, what about tone and style?  Well, that is what I am going to chat about today.


OSE & B/X
This is the obvious mix. So obvious in fact that there is not a lot to say that isn't painfully obvious.  So instead I am going to admire how nice those two black covers look together.   A nice addition to what I tend to call Black Book or Black Box Basic (also because like a Black Box, I throw things in and get things out and don't really care how or why it works as long as it does).


Obviously, any adventure designed for B/X or even BECMI will work with OSE.  At least up to level 14.

OSE & Maximum Mayhem Adventures
Mark Taormino's collection of crazy gonzo adventures run from levels 1 to 14.  Are you thinking what I am thinking?  Well, today is the flip-side of a PWWO on Maximum Mayhem Adventures I did a while back.  If you want to know more about those adventures, hit that link. 


While the adventures are overtly and specifically designed for OSRIC/AD&D1, I have had a great time running these under B/X style rules.  I also find that none of the deadliness is lost here.  If anything the fun factor is increased.

OSE & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea


Another popular choice of mine for PWWO.  For this, I would use the Advanced Fantasy options of OSE.  AS&SH can be trimmed down to "Basic" style play easily enough.  So the two games can meet in the middle, system-wise.  Style-wise there is more to overcome.  AS&SH is a "Black Sabbath" album.  Deep, rich with darker tones and cold nights.  OSE is a "Yes" album. Ætheric, it is journey of expected highs but also surprising depths.  The demi-humans of OSE-AF bolster the newer classes of AS&SH.  IT might not be a mix that all people like, but it does appeal to me.

OSE & the B/X OSR
There are so many products out there that support B/X style play these days and there is no way I could cover even all the ones in my own collection.
But here are few.


Does B/X or OSE *need* psionics? Likely no.  Is it better with it? I think so!  Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook is a great book and a fun psionic system.  One he could redo for OSE if he wanted.  But like all things psionics, it's a choice.  As it is now it is a perfect fit.


The same is true for any number of Monster books.  I mentioned that OSE would easily support Monsters 2 and Monsters 3 books with no issue.  Hell. With all the OGC sources a Monsters 2 and 3 could be made that mimic the monsters in Fiend Folio and Monster Manual 2.




OSE is not the only Basic-game in town.  Blueholme cleaves closer to Holmes Basic, but it's 1-20 levels provide a little more play (though those last 6 levels are not as fun as the first 6) and Labyrinth Lord provides the same.  LL has their Advanced versions too if you are planning an "Advanced Fantasy" style game.  This takes it in a slightly different direction, but ultimately (for me anyway) it makes it possible to play a "cleaner" version of the D&D/AD&D hybrid we used to play in the early 80s.  Purity is for water, not games.


OSE & BX Companion


Eventually, someone will ask for an OSE Companion book.  Taking OSE to level 36 or Immortals.  Well, you can wait for one or use the one we are all using now.

A while back I posted How I commit heresy with Adventurer Conqueror King. I can do the same thing with OSE.  Johnathan Becker's magnum opus is as much of a love letter to BX as OSE is.  While B/X Companion doesn't work as well with say Labyrinth Lord of Basic Fantasy (the main Basic clones at the time) it does work great with OSE.

Basic-Era Witches


I'd be remiss if I didn't point this out.  In fact, while working on this post and taking these pictures I am once again hit with the idea of how well this would all work out for my War of the Witch Queens campaign.

So OSE has been giving me no end of pleasure and I don't see that stopping anytime soon.

Review: Old-School Essentials

One of the hottest Old School Clones to hit the market recently has been Gavin Norman's Old-School Essentials.  Simply the game is a restatement of the Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert Ruleset for Dungeons & Dragons.  It has combined, cleaned up and modularized.

It has also been a HUGE success.  First, there was his already well-received B/X Essentials line, then the crazy-successful Kickstarter which brought in €160,390 (or $175,000).  Now you can find it in your FLGS or for the next week as part of the Bundle of Holding.

Boxed sets are cool.It really has been a well-deserved success.

For this, I am going to review both the hardcovers and the PDF releases.  But first a word on the physical, hardcover books and boxed set.   Gavin has really set a new bar in the elegance of rule presentations.  The books are clean, crisp and the layout is fantastic.  The hardcovers are solid and the boxed set box is both attractive and sturdy.  My wife even picked it up and commented on how gorgeous it is.

This is the new mark for Old-School gaming. These books, while lighter on the art, are some of the best put together books from any other Old-School/OSR publisher.  This includes LotFP, S&W (so far) and it even edges out Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria.  Sorry guys, but this is the new gold standard.



Old-School Essentials
The Old-School Essentials (OSE) is a re-organization of the Basic/Expert rules from 1981.  Thus the Core Rules feature the basic four character classes of Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Theif.  There are also the three "demi-human" classes of Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.   The rules are divided up into different books both in the PDF and Hardcover versions as well as a combined Rules Tome.

Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules
PDF only, 56 pages.
This free 56-page book covers all the basics of the OSE line. Picking it up you can see the stylistic changes from B/XE to OSE. Also, this book covers just about everything you need to play right now. It includes the four human classes, some rules, some spells, some monsters, and treasure. Enough to give you a taste of what OSE will be like. It has the same modular design as B/XE so finding things is simple, leaving more time for play. There is no interior art in this free version, but that hardly detracts from it.

If you are on the fence about OSE then this is the place to start.  Grab it and you will be up and playing in no time.
My only disappointment about this product is there is no print option!

Old School Essentials: Core Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 80 pages
The Core Rules weighs in at 80 pages and gets to the very heart of the OSE line.  The essential Essentials as it were. It covers Ability scores in general, sequences of play and all the basic rules needed.  Combat is covered separately. Magic also gets a bit of coverage here in general terms and including how spells can be researched and magic items made.
The rules have been "cleaned up" from their obvious predecessors.   The focus is on readability and playability here.   like all of the OSE books every entry of a rule is presented on facing pages.  So you open up the book and everything you need on the subject is right there.  Only rarely will you need to turn the page.
In the original rules, it took a bit of digging to actually figure out how much a character moves.  This was vastly improved in later editions of the game, but here it is very succinctly spelled out. Other rules are equally made clear.
Since the "Basic" and "Expert" rules are combined here there is an economy of word usage here.  As much as I love my Basic and Expert games, sometimes you need to consult both books when a situation comes up.  This book though is more than a handy index, it takes that notion from the B/XE Core Rules and expands it into a much more playable game.
The philosophy of the Core Rules is just that, everything you need to play regardless of the genre.  Included in the boxed set (and an expected purchase) is the Classic Fantasy Genre Rules.  This is what takes the Core Rules and makes it into a "Basic-era Fantasy Game".  So in simpler language, this is Basic D&D.  You do need a set of Genre Rules to be able to use the Core Rules, but there is enough there if you are an aspiring game designer to make up your own. Say Roaring 20s, or Space or Horror.  Anything really.
The book has some really, really great old-school feeling art as well. Just fantastic stuff really.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Genre Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
These are the rules to allow you to play in any sort of "Basic Fantasy" style game.  Here get our character classes of Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Theif and The three "demi-human" classes of Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.  If you are familiar with the Basic/Expert games of 1981 then this is home territory for you.  Human classes are limited to 14th level and demi-humans vary.
In addition to the classes (half the book more or less) we go into Equipment, mounts, hirelings and building strongholds.  So yes, everything that concerns players from level 1 to level 14 or retirement.
This is one of the three required books by the players.  The others are the Core Rules and then also Cleric and Magic-User spells (if they are playing one of those classes).
Like all the books in this series the layout is crisp, clean and a model of efficient use of words. From a User Experience point of view it is an absolute gem.
The art is likewise fantastic with full color spreads throughout the book.



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Cleric and Magic-User Spells would have been my favorite book if OSE had come out in the 80s.  Right now it also has my favorite cover from the entire series. Seriously, I love it. It just oozes eldritch weirdness.
The book itself has 48 pages and covers all the Cleric and Magic-User/Elf spells in the game.
All the usual suspects are here.  Cleric spells go to level 5 and magic-user spells go to level 6, just as expected from the B/X sources. Again, when making my recent Cleric I used this book.
The modularity again is a huge boon for this book and game.  Adding a new class, like the Druid or Illusionists? Add a new book easy!  In fact, we see that is exactly what was done.  Expandability is the key here.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Monsters
PDF and Hardcover, 80 pages
Ah, now this is a book I would have loved back in 81.  Also coming in at 80 pages this book is about monsters and nothing else.
Stat blocks are concise and there is none of the bloat in the descriptions that appear in later editions (ok to be fair that bloat was demanded by players).   The book is fantastic with my only reservation in I wish it had been illustrated more.  But even that is fine because the illustration we get are fantastic and very reminiscent of the old school monster books.
There are also NPC encounter tables and monsters listed by HD.  The utility of this book is top-notch.
I can easily see a "Monsters 2" and "Monsters 3" sometime in the future for this line.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Treasures
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Some games merge their Monsters and Treasures books and I can see the logic of that.  These are separate books and after using them for a while I like the separated.  Just like having a Monsters 2 or 3 books, more treasures can also be introduced.
This covers all the expected treasures and includes one of MY favorite things from early D&D, sentient swords.   The same clear and concise layout here as in all the books. Quite a treat really.
That cover might be my second favorite in all the series.

That covers the "Core Boxed Set."



You can pick them all up in PDF at DriveThru or from Necrotic Gnome's website. OR get a physical box from your FLGS or again Necrotic Gnome's website.



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
PDF and Hardcover, 296 pages
If you are a fan of the old "Rule Cyclopedia" version of the BECMI rules then this is going to be a treat for you.  The Rules Tome combines all of the "Core" and "Classic Fantasy" rules into one large and gorgeous tome.  There are three different cover versions.  I have the foil JShields version, the Andrew Walter is the standard version and in many ways, I like it better!  It is the same art on the Box Set, so I am happy to have both.  This book includes:

  • Core Rules: Rules for character creation and advancement, adventuring in dungeons, the wilderness, and at sea, magic and combat.
  • Classic Fantasy: Genre Rules: Seven classic classes (cleric, dwarf, elf, fighter, halfling, magic-user, thief), complete lists of weapons and adventuring gear, extensive lists of vehicles, mounts, and vessels, mercenaries and specialists for hire, rules for stronghold construction.
  • Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells: The complete set of 34 cleric spells (from 1st to 5th level) and 72 magic-user spells (from 1st to 6th level), for use by players or cleric, elf, and magic-user characters.
  • Classic Fantasy: Monsters: A selection of over 200 classic monsters to challenge adventurers of all levels.
  • Classic Fantasy: Treasures: A hoard of over 150 wondrous magic items.

So everything you need for a full fantasy game.
Should you get this one or the individual books?  That is up to you.  The combined volume is obviously cheaper.   But all are enjoyable.
I have a Rules Tome for me, a set of books for the table and a couple extra players' books (Core Rules and Genre Rules).



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Referee's Screen
PDF only, 10 pages.
The one thing that B/X lacked was a proper GM's screen.  Yes, BECMI had one, but not B/X.  Well OSE has you covered, or screened as it were.
This product has 10 pages (1 cover, 1 OGL page and 8 pages of screen) for standard 8-panel, landscape orientation screens.  Purchase the PDF and print them out.  Easy.
The cover art is Peter Mullen's core art. So there are ways to get all the cover art...covered I guess.

All of these combine into a fantastic Old-School experience for those of us that grew up on B/X and for those that didn't.  It is just a really fantastic game.



But what if your tastes run to the Advanced end of the 80s RPG experiences?
Well OSE has not forgotten about you! The modularity of this rule expression pays off here when you can easily add on new rules, classes, and spells.

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 56 pages
Like many in the early 80s, I moved from the B/X version of the World's Greatest Game to the Advanced version.  But also like many, I never forgot my "Basic" roots and thought for all it's "Advancements" there was still something special about the Basic game.
Well OSE hears you.  The modular design of OSE makes adding material that is considered "Advanced" to be quite easy.  Granted this is not the first Retro-Clone to do this, but this one does it in such an elegant fashion.
Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules adds new classes and new races. For new races we get drow, duergar, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, and svirfneblin (yes deep gnomes!)  Also true to the advanced rules this book pulls race and class apart.  In truth this was one of the major benefits of the Advanced game and that is true here as well.  For new classes, we get acrobat, assassin, barbarian, bard, druid, illusionist, knight, paladin, and ranger. There is also rules for multi-classing, something I always want to add to my basic games.  Some additional rules on poison and magic are also included.

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Much like the Cleric and Magic-User Spells book this one covers Druids and Illusionist spells.  Again the modularity of the game pays off here.  You can play Advanced Genre Druids and Illusionists OR you can just use the Cleric and Magic-User classes respectively and this book to play a Basic Druid and Basic Illusionist and not even buy the Advanced Fantasy Genre Rules book.  It would be better to pick up that book, but the way everything is written you do not have too.
This covers the usual suspects of spells again.  The Basic style presentation is fun and it is like seeing these classes and spells through new eyes.  It really is a testament to the system and the authorship.



These two Advanced books will fit in your Black Box set very easily.
Sadly no room for dice.



I have nothing bad to say about this set or these rules.
If I had ONE wish, and maybe only one, it would be for a spiral or coil bound version to have at my game table to lay flat.  But I suppose I could always print it out and put it into a three-ring binder.
I might just have to do that.


Monstrous Mondays: Monster of Lake Fagua for OSE

Today I wanted to get into a monster from my recent re-discovery of Daniel Cohen and a bunch of books I read as a kid and critical to my early ideas of what could be part of my D&D games.  One of those books was "Monsters, Giants and Little Green Men from Mars."

And one of those monsters was the Monster of Lake Fagua.

Appearing something like a large manticore, it reminded me a lot of the Piasa Bird.

The monster was said to have been "found in the kingdom of Santa Fe," in Peru, in the province of Chile, "in Lake Fagua, which is in the" lands of Prosper - Voston."  At least as reported in France on several prints sold in Paris in October 1784.

The creature was described as follows:

"Its length is eleven feet; the face is almost that of a man; the mouth is as wide as the face; it is furnished with two-inch teeth length. It has two 24 inch long horns which resemble those of a bull; hair hanging down to the ground; the ears are four inches long and are similar to those of a donkey; it has two wings like those of a bat, the thighs and legs are 25 inches; it has two tails, one very flexible, which it uses to grip the prey; the other, which ends in an arrow, is used to kill him; his whole body is covered with scales.”

It had been described as a relative to the harpy.  So let's keep that.  Potentially a manticore/harpy crossbreed.

Monster of Lake Fagua
(Old-School Essentials)

Armor Class 2 [18]
Hit Dice 8 (36hp)
Attacks [2 × claw (1d6), 1 × bite (2d4)] or 1 × tail spike (1d6+poison) or 2 x horn gore (1d4+1)
THAC0 13 [+7]
Movement Rate 90' (30') / 180' (60) flying / 360' (120')  swimming
Saves D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (8)
Morale 9
Alignment Chaotic
XP for Defeating 1200
Number Appearing 1d4 (2d10)
Treasure Type None
  • Amphibious Movement. This creature is equally at home on land, water or sky.  The fagua monster can spend up to 12 hours underwater. 
  • Nocturnal. The creature is only active at night and can seel equally well in the dark. 
  • Tail Grab. On a critical success on a tail attack (natural 20) the Fugua Monster can instead grab a victim and squeeze them each round for 1d6 points of damage. A Strength check is needed to escape.
  • Tail Spike. The spike of the Fugua Monster has a paralytic poison. Save vs. Poison or become paralyzed for 1d4+2 rounds.

Nice to see this guy again!

Weekend Gaming. Keep the Goblin in the Backpack

A full weekend of gaming.  Friday Liam went to his friends' game (5e) where they are rotating DMs. I think this is a great idea. Gives everyone a chance to try DMing and keeps everything fresh with everyone's different style.  Next week I hear they are doing Trek! 
Saturday was Connor's group. They are going through the Curse of Strahd, but the characters are again the stereotypical bi-sexual, kleptomaniac, pyromaniac band of murder hobos.  One of the players could not make it this week or last, so their character, a goblin fey-pact warlock, has been in the barbarian's backpack this whole time sleeping.  Trouble is the barbarian has decided he likes spiders, so he keeps putting live spiders into his backpack.  This will be fun next week.
Tonight Liam has his other group, his "college" group, over.  They are also going through Curse of Strahd.
We also went out to Games Plus this weekend to drop off some books for the local game auction.
For food, since it was 50 degrees in Chicago (which is like 70 everywhere else, except Minnesota, they think 40 is like everyone elses' 70) I grilled.  Chicken, garlic bread, romaine, as well as cornbread and brownies. 






Right now everyone is laughing, so it sounds like a good time. Hope your weekend of gaming went well!

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